The number of indigenous Mexicans is judged using the political criteria found in the 2nd article of the Mexican constitution. The Mexican census does not report racial-ethnicity but only the cultural-ethnicity of indigenous communities that preserve their indigenous languages, traditions, beliefs and cultures. It can also be defined broadly to all persons who self identify as having an indigenous cultural background. The indigenous peoples in Mexico have the right of free determination under the article of the constitution. Mesoamerica was densely populated by indigenous ethnic groups which, although sharing common cultural characteristics, spoke different languages. One of the most influential civilizations that developed in Mesoamerica was the Olmec civilization, evidence has been found on the existence of multiracial communities or neighborhoods in Teotihuacan. The capital of the empire, Tenochtitlan, became one of the largest urban centers in the world, while the alliances were decisive to the Europeans victory, the indigenous peoples were soon subjugated by an equally impressive empire. Indigenous communities were incorporated as communities under Spanish rule and with the power structure largely intact. Such a written tradition likely took hold because there was a tradition of pictorial writing found in many indigenous codices. Scholars have utilized the colonial-era alphabetic documentation in what is called the New Philology to illuminate the colonial experience of Mesoamerican peoples from their own viewpoints. Indigenous officials in their communities were involved in maintaining this system, there was a precipitous decline in indigenous populations due to the spread of European diseases previously unknown in the New World. Pandemics wrought havoc, but indigenous communities recovered with fewer members, the Spanish crown recognized the existing ruling group, gave protection to the land holdings of indigenous communities, and communities and individuals had access to the Spanish legal system. Mendicants of the Franciscan, Dominican, and Augustinian orders initially evangelized indigenous in their own communities in what is called the spiritual conquest. Later on the northern frontiers where nomadic indigenous groups had no fixed settlements, the Jesuits were prominent in this enterprise until their expulsion from Spanish America in 1767. Catholicism with particular local aspects was the only religion in the colonial era. As the New Spain became independent from Spain, the new country was named after its capital city, Mexico declared the abolition of black slavery in 1829 and the equality of all citizens under the law. Indigenous communities continued to have rights as corporations to maintain land holdings until the liberal Reforma, some indigenous individuals integrated into the Mexican society, like Benito Juárez of Zapotec ethnicity, the first indigenous president of a country in the New World. As a political liberal, however, Juárez supported the removal of protections of indigenous community corporate land holding, the greatest change came about as a result of the Mexican Revolution, a violent social and cultural movement that defined 20th century Mexico
The large building in the Cueva de las Ventanas with Room 5 in the background.
A 16th-century manuscript illustrating La Malinche and the contact of Spaniards and Aztecs.